Yesterday evening I attended a local cycle campaign meeting where we were lucky enough to have the County Cycling Officer present. She kept quoting ‘Section 106 monies’ for cycling schemes as there clearly isn’t a direct budget for cycling at the moment.
In case you may have attended cycle forums or meetings yourself and heard this phrase without fully understanding what it means, or you’re curious to find out how cycling budgets really work, I’ll try and define it below.
‘Section 106 (S106) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 allows a local planning authority (LPA) to enter into a legally-binding agreement or planning obligation with a landowner in association with the granting of planning permission. The obligation is termed a ‘Section 106 Agreement’.
These agreements are a way of delivering or addressing matters that are necessary to make a development acceptable in planning terms. They are increasingly used to support the provision of services and infrastructure, such as highways, recreational facilities, education, health and affordable housing.
..Matters agreed as part of a S106 must be:
- relevant to planning
- necessary to make the proposed development acceptable in planning terms
- directly related to the proposed development
- fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind to the proposed development
- reasonable in all other respects.
A council’s approach to securing benefits through the S106 process should be grounded in evidence-based policy. ‘
Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club Definition
It allows a Council to shift its already meagre cycling budget to other more ‘pressing’ things (like pothole repair) with the promise of lots of Section 106 money for new facilities. Thus cycling infrastructure in many Local Authorities is at the mercy of pockets of cash dotted around the area, linked to where new developments are. If you’re lucky, they will try and build facilities that tie in with their ‘Cycling Strategy’, which might be an overly long, verbose document that’s woefully out of date as they couldn’t commit funding or resource to update it.
When you start asking the Local Authority as to why you are just relying on Section 106 money they may launch into Middle Management spiel about cuts and times being hard. When you point out that cycling budgets were miniscule when times were good, there usually follows a bit of an awkward silence. If you are in a campaign group, the term ‘Section 106’ may have been used a lot recently, particularly when the recession first kicked in and the Local Authorities realised that they had a lot of capital tied up in Icelandic banks.
This type of funding is piecemeal at best and is just one of the wonderful reasons why we have the poorly designed, sketchy and dangerous infrastructure that exists currently.